Boyfriend and I have been going to therapy a little over two months now. Much has changed and much has stayed the same. There are some things I learned over the last few months that I didn't think I'd learn. There are also things that I'm disappointed in. You all were so supportive those months ago that I wanted to give you all an update about how things are going now.
Things I've learned :
We have more in common than I thought. I was very focused on what we didn't agree on before, now I realise that we have similar stances on religion (both atheist, both feel it has no place in government or education, but that everyone should be free to believe what they want and learn about more than they are likely to be familiar with), on healthcare. We like many the same tv-shows and movies, have similar taste in music. Although I always thought he only accepted black&white furniture, it turns that he actually also likes the interior design things I like! (So long as things don't get too messy.. ;)) We share a sense of humor that is uniquely our own.
I actually enjoy doing things with him again. In the last months we've ordered a food box (you receive 3 or 5 recipes a week and all the ingredients and can then cook yourself a healthy meal) and have made it a thing to cook together. Messing around in the kitchen, with some music on in the background, hugging in between and eating the dinner at the table to discuss our day has made a huge difference in how we spend our time. He makes me laugh a lot by acting goofy and we do silly dances. We watch a lot less tv but try to spend more time just enjoying each other.
We cán be supportive to each other. (if we are understanding and open up) In december boyfriends aunt and grandmother both ended up in the hospital and boyfriend was quite distraught about it. He didn't see his family a lot and felt incredibly guilty about it. He completely opened up to me about his fears, something he wouldn't have done before. He found it surprisingly nice to do so. After a disappointing moment boyfriend asked how I felt and I told him, which I found hard to do. And he listened. It might seem odd, but that felt revolutionary to me.
He feels incredibly insecure. About the relationship, about my feelings for him, about himself. He is beating himself up over how he failed me and drove me away. I don't quite know how to handle it but I know I'm not handling it well. In therapy we spoke about how, when I felt insecure, it was important that he'd be genuinely supportive. Last night when he clearly needed me to tell him that I still found him a beautiful man, my reaction was more on the "what the hell are you talking about" side. I can feel he's breaking under it and I feel like an asshole but I don't put in the effort to make sure he feels wanted. I know I don't.
Attraction isn't a given. I still don't feel attracted to him more than I do. That's hard for me. And it's hard for him. He doesn't feel like he can flirt with me because he doesn't want to push me, but he doesn't notice any flirting from my end. He feels like this is something we should work on if we want to make this work.
Neither is sex. We had sex once, a few days before the last therapy session. It was disappointing. We were both nervous and awkward, I couldn't relax and didn't let him finish foreplay. In therapy our therapist stressed that we shouldn't let this define how we feel about sex. It's a vulnerable and many-layered thing, it was a cause of stress before we 'noticed' the relationship going better and it's only logical that it won't suddenly be perfect. It's only natural that there isn't the same attraction after so much hurt has taken place, that takes time. Time and practice. So we should approach it playfully and especially lightheartedly. I thought I also clearly communicated that I felt like we'd taken that step too fast and wanted to move back away from it. The last two weeks we haven't been very affectionate and it's been making boyfriend insecure and frustrated. Two weeks ago we'd kiss, now we don't and he feels me closing myself off from him. I only notice myself doing that when he talks about feeling frustrated with how things are going. But it's unfair to expect him to not share his feelings with me, when that's what we are trying to learn.
How are things now?
Sometimes they are very good and I'm so happy that we are working on things. Sometimes things it feels so hard. As if we are constantly taking a step forward, step back. Forward. Back. We or me. Either way.
At this moment things feel very hard. Right now I feel like a relationship means constant work. Constantly wondering 'am I doing right? am I hurting you? is this what you want?', sometimes it makes me feel claustrophobic. Part of me wants to go 'it was bullshit to say you can also work on yourself or relax or just choose you every once in a while'. It isn't bullshit but it is harder, it takes conscious effort. Although I do try to talk to him, I find it hard to talk about this, because it's hurtful talk. We had a good time over christmas break but I also felt like we were constantly focused on each other and I looked forward to spending some time apart. I don't feel as comfortable with exploring the physical relationship as he is (which he says is fine, he just doesn't understand why he feels me making a leap backwards from where we were at only weeks ago, which makes me feel pushed, which he doesn't understand *le sigh*). I don't feel as attracted to him as he is to me. I feel like a jerk for not being attracted to him, for not finding his body attractive, even when I think he looks great. I feel like I'm bad at this relationship thing, he's worked at being understanding and validating towards me when I share things. When he does so, I jump on the defensive or just pull back. I am actively angry in fact. Creating safe talking spaces is hard. I feel like I'm just not good at this and it'll always take so much effort for me to respond to his sharing (about me or the relationship) with validation and support.
I have to admit that this heavy feeling is strongly influenced by me being very tired right at this moment. I haven't been sleeping well and last nights conversation really threw me. Emotions are still high for both of us, everything seems like a mountain, even if they turn out to just be molehills.
Today I feel sad and tired of the relationship. But it's hopeful to also admit that most, if not all days in the last few weeks have been quite to very happy.
This was long, sorry!